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Film recommendations: Little Girl and A Perfectly Normal Family

Two films available this week explore issues around the trans experience, with delicacy and much-needed kindness.

Little Girl is a French documentary which follows 8-year-old Sasha, who knows she is a girl, despite being assigned male at birth. She wrestles her way with other people at school, in her dance class, but her family are supportive and know she must be allowed to follow her own path. Filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz, who regularly explores marginalised and queer experiences, follows Sasha and her family over the course of a year.

The film, which is beautifully shot, delicately captures moments of joy and challenges the family face. This is an important film for anyone trying to understand the issues faced by trans children in a world which frequently doesn’t understand them.

Little Girl is available to rent in the UK on Curzon Home Cinema.

A Perfectly Normal Family is a fictional feature based on the director’s own teenage years. 11-year-old Emma has a perfectly normal family until her father announces that he is transgender. As Thomas becomes Agnete, both father and daughter struggle to hold onto the relationship they had, while accepting that everything has changed. This film, largely seen through the eyes of football-mad Emma, offers a different perspective with the effects of Agnete’s new life on Emma and her older sister.

The director, Malou Reymann, chose a cis male actor to play Agnete and accepts that she faces criticism for this. However, she felt it important that the actor portray her father as Thomas as well, and in the early stages of transition, and however she cast the role, there would be a transition.

She says, “I spoke to my dad about it also, it would be so complicated for a transgender woman who has already undergone that whole journey to become her true self, to then go back and play a man. I really don’t think it would be possible, just the whole physicality of it. Moving and sitting and talking as a man, I think it wouldn’t be possible. Obviously it’s so complicated. I understand the criticism [for not casting a trans actor or actress] but I have to hold onto the principle that everyone should be able to play anyone. Hopefully at some point we’ll come to a place where transgender people can portray cis people, I hope it will become more accepted to be trans so that we come to a different place. We are still in a difficult time with these issues.”

A Perfectly Normal Family is available in cinemas, via virtual screening rooms and on Curzon Home Cinema.

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